February 13, 2023 at 10:00 am EST
Why You Should Prioritize Protein and Strength Training in Perimenopause

As our bodies grow and change over the decades including perimenopause, our nutritional needs and exercise habits can have a big impact on our overall health, weight management, and longevity. Our resting metabolism is relatively consistent between the ages of 20 to 60 years old if we don’t make any significant changes to our body and behaviors (like building muscle mass). But after the age of 60, our metabolism starts to slow down due to a reduction in muscle mass (more on this later). When we have less muscle mass, then our bodies burn less calories at rest.

woman in black exercise top holding exercise ball, menopause, perimenopause, weight loss, strength training

If we continue to consume the same amount of calories we ate when we were 30 years old, we may experience weight gain. This may or may not feel familiar to you. On the flip side, as we cross midlife and beyond, our bodies need MORE protein than in our younger years to prevent sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is the decline in muscle mass. Adults need about 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight, whereas older adults need 1.0 to 1.2 grams of protein per kg of body weight. [To convert kilograms to pounds, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 and you’ll have your weight in kilograms (kgs).] This would mean that a woman who weighs 150 pounds in her 30’s would need about 55 grams of protein, whereas a woman who weighs 150 pounds in her 60’s would need up to 82 grams of protein per day.

bowl with salad, hardboiled egg, and turkey, high protein, low carb meal

Within the Target100 program we focus more on carbohydrates as part of the food pillar. However, including quality sources of protein at each meal and snack is important too! If you’ve taken our advanced courses, you’ll get the chance to explore all the macronutrients (carbs, fats, and protein) and their role in health and weight loss. When considering adding more protein-rich foods into your diet, choose a variety (especially if you are vegetarian) to make sure you get all the amino acids to support your muscle mass. Here are some great examples of protein-rich foods for weight management:

  • Lean meat: 3oz = 21 grams protein

  • Greek yogurt: 1 cup = 20 grams protein

  • Lowfat cottage cheese: 1 cup = 30 grams protein

  • Nuts and seeds: 1 oz = about 6 grams protein

  • Eggs: 1 = 7 grams protein

  • Tofu: 3oz = 7 grams protein

  • Beans: 1 cup = 15 grams protein

There are several high protein recipes on our blog including this great recipe to help you build a strong and lean body.

Above and beyond just eating more protein-rich foods daily, we should be doing regular strength building activities to support maintaining muscle mass. A minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity is recommended weekly for adults. Within the Target100 program, we set a target of 100 minutes of exercise per week to set a more achievable starting target for most of us. Once you comfortably achieve 100 minutes per week, strive for the goal of 150 minutes of exercise per week.

Black woman, midlife, menopause, in yellow exercise gear holding weights

For the Target100 exercise pillar, aim to include two days of strength training to support muscle and bone health! Weight-bearing exercises like walking and push-ups create a stress load on our muscles and bones. Our muscles and bones in response to the stress focus on rebuilding resulting in a stronger body, yay! Of note, the rebuilding phase typically takes 48 to 72 hours AFTER the workout to be fully achieved.

You may experience some discomfort and challenges with adding more strength training movements into your routine, that’s ok! Many women find that they have increased belly fat and urinary incontinence during perimenopause and menopause. One suggestion would be to practice core-strengthening exercises to help offset some of these changes. (Core-focused strength training definitely counts towards that Exercise Pillar!) Some great examples of core strengthening exercises include: planks, sit-ups, bicycle crunches, running man, dead-bug, bird-dog, bridges, and even kegels! We also love group and coach-lead workouts (like F45 Training) when starting out with a strength routine or if you’re looking to change things up.

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